Well, here we are – it’s time for the finale of my strangely detailed D&D giants overview!
Giants have been a part of Dungeons & Dragons since the very beginning. This isn’t anything special, any fantasy mishmash needs Big People(tm). D&D has, however, thrown in multiple varieties of giant from the beginning. Aside from the six “core” Giants (Hill, Stone, Fire, Frost, Cloud, Storm), there have been plenty of kinds of big dudes. On one hand, you have “Giant-Kin,” including ogres, Trolls, Cyclopes, Fomorians, Firbolgs, and whatnot. Depending on the edition, those guys can have the category of “Giant,” though they don’t really count. But you also have other kinds of “true” Giants. And of those, there are… a lot. And I mean a LOT. Ranging from Forest Giants (big elves) to Fog Giants (ugly Cloud Giants) to Taiga Giants (big mongolian oni) to Sun Giants (big shiny people) to Mountain Gaints (big Hill Giants) to Slag Giants (fiery Stone Giants) to River Giants (skinny dudes) to… you get my drift. There are way too many of them. It’s edition-dependent, though, with 2nd, 3rd, and Pathfinder having the most, while 5th Edition has really limited Giant-types to just the core, so far. But some of this variety has shown up in miniatures. And you know what? it’s worth a look.
Notably, I’m only counting “True” Giants. So Fomorians (there are three), Trolls, Ogres (a ton), Cyclopes, and so on… maybe they’ll get a different post in the future. I had to check and double-check to make sure I caught up on these guys – I’ve had most of ’em since they first came out, but a few had slipped through. The Death Giants, who were introduced in 3rd Edition, became “core” in 4th Edition, and then got forgotten about, have some representation, too! This list will, like the Hill Giants, be just a LITTLE out of order. The Rune Giant, a Pathfinder figure from 2012, is going to be the last listed. It’s kind of awesome, and deserves a special look. Ha ha. But anyway let’s have a look!
First up is the Hunched Giant, released in 2005 has part of the Underdark set. Theoretically related to Hill Giants (though if he stood up straight, he’d be like twice the size), a Hunched Giant is what happens to Giants after generations of living down in the caves, without room to stand up straight. Pale, stooped, but still dangerous, this figure is actually about the height of one of the Fire Giant minis, even while hunched over!
2006’s War Drums set gave us the Sand Giant, who blasts sand from his didgeridoo-esque weapon, and… okay, I have to address this. pretty much every Giant type has something monstrous about its appearance. Even Hill Giants have that whole Cro-Magnon thing going, so they’re not just big people. But this guy? Um… he’s just a big black guy. What was the design conversation behind this? Do we really want to know? It feels kind of odd and uncomfortable. I dunno, maybe I’m reading too much into it. Most likely, nobody was really putting much thought into the matter that every other giant is this inhuman creature… and then this guy’s just a little ethnic. Anyway, he’s the same height as the two Hill Giants in the same set.
Later in 2006 we got the Eldritch Giant, a Huge figure roughly the size of a 5th Edition Storm Giant, which means that he positively towers over all of his 3rd (and 4th) Edition brethren. He’s gigantic and purple, which helps him sub for a Storm Giant. He’s also got magical tattoos on his arms and face. Eldritch Giants specialize in magic, and they hate Storm Giants because people keep mistaking them for each other.
Against the Giants in 2008 gave us the Death Titan! Death Giants had been introduced in 3rd Edition, but were made “core” in 4th Edition, replacing poor, forgotten Cloud Giants. The Death Titan is Huge-sized, and looks a little bit like Orlok. They are from the Plane of Shadow/Shadowfell/Whatever it’s called, and actively collect souls, creating the swirling aura you can see on the figure. His paint is weirdly uneven, with his shoulders and chest looking like patchwork armor rather than, you know, shoulders and chest. As for the related Death Giant, it took a second – in fact, it was a good two years before we got any more “non-core” Giants.
Lords of Madness in 2010 was the last D&D minis set before the 2014 revival. And it had a Death Giant! He’s shorter than the Titan – Large instead of Huge, and roughly half his size (Hill Giant size). I rather like how this one looks, with a genuinely desiccated appearance, as well as a swirling souls aura that’s easier to pipe light into, and looks like an organic part of the sculpt.
You can see the difference in Death Giant height here, no problem.
The same set also gave us an Astral Giant! Hailing from the Astral Plane, Astral Giants (and Titans) look like genies, and are made of pure magic! As you can tell, it’s easy to pipe some light in underneath this one, too. Astral Giants were an odd choice – but as I said, they do sub nicely for Genies if needed. The figure is fairly tall for a Large, as well.
5th Edition D&D has not introduced bonus Giants yet, which means that… we’re going on to Pathfinder for the rest! Although the Rune Giant should be one of the first in this list, we’re leaving it for last for good reason.
2013’s Legends of Golarion gave us a Marsh Giant! Slimy, froglike, and sickening, these obese monsters are essentially a large version of the Innsmouth Deep Ones. The mini even has a layer of gloss, so it looks slimy and sweaty. Disgusting!
2016’s Deadly Foes set gave us two more Giants! The Cave Giant is the smallest of all of these guys he’s big, sure, but he’s almost human height! I mean, proportion-wise, he’s still a giant, he’s just shorter than expected. Cave Giants look a lot like big Orcs with bigger tusks, and are hunched-over from cave living, though not to the same extent as Hunched Giants.
From the same set we’ve got the Shadow Giant, who’s roughly Frost Giant size. Hailing from the Plane of Shadow, Shadow Giants have a few thematic similarities to Death Giants, though they don’t steal or use souls, and have a vaguely Aztec culture, and, uh… hm. Remember what I said about Sand Giants? It’s not quite as bad here, since he’s literally shadow-black-inhuman-color, so maybe I’m just being hypersensitive a little. I like the gold armor and use of macuahuitl weapons. Black and Gold makes for a good color combination, actually.
in 2012, for Rise of the Runelords, the case incentive figure (remember Chief Guh? Same idea) is the Gargantuan-sized Rune Giant. And this guy is impressive. Engineered as a cross between Fire Giants and Taiga Giants, Rune Giants are some of the largest, rarest, and most powerful Giants in the world of Golarion. They resemble Oni in many ways, and are bigger than even Storm Giants! Because of his wide stance, this figure isn’t too much taller than 5th Edition Storm Giant, but he is meant to be about 40 feet tall.
The runic tattoos covering his body are a little reminiscent of the Eldritch Giant, and serve a similar purpose, trapping in magical energy.
That sword is just awesome. Those sculpted rings seem dynamic. Everything about the pose suggests motion, but those rings are just a nice touch.
Back to the main sculpt, this guy is terrifying. Bigger than any dinosaur, and with a nightmarish, intelligent stare, this is one of the most intimidating things to drop on a game table. And let’s be honest, you could put him on a shelf in the living room, and it’d look cool.
You want size? The Rune Giant absolutely dwarfs humans! What are you going to do, ankle bite him to death?
Just to point out, these are both case incentive figures. Same price point ($40-$50 new), same distribution (a bonus if you order a case), same deal. Kind of makes Chief Guh look terrible, doesn’t it?
Well, we’ve wrapped it up. All the Giants, unless I feel like tossing in Trolls and Ogres and stuff… and that might just happen. But for now, we have the Giants. Hill, Stone, Fire, Frost, Cloud, Storm, and Miscellaneous. I’ve enjoyed this massive, crazy survey, and it’s cool to see how design philosophy has changed over the years. So, which Giants were your favorites? Do you like how 5th Edition made everyone larger? Are Storm Giants really just Zeus? Why are Hill Giants all obese? Will we ever get a Fog Giant? And do you agree with me that the Rune Giant is just cool? Let me know!